august tuition update

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we’re $157.76 further away from our goal than we were at the end of july. and i’m okay with that. [shout out to the Big Man upstairs for that!] here’s the update, read on for a more detailed account of the crazy month of august.

total tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
total tuition paid so far: $2,090.00
savings at the end of august: $1,476.60
difference: $6,087.40
percentage saved: 37.96%
percentage left to save: 63.06%

at the beginning of august, we had a broken back door, a broken dryer, and a broken moped. my first paycheck was quite a bit less than i was expecting it to be (i assumed it was taxes). and i told bryan that i wanted to be prepared to empty our entire savings account if God asked us to. [He didn’t, by the way]

throughout august, it became apparent that this was another month to carry our checkbook around with us and trust in God’s provision. we have a friend fighting cancer, a friend going to kenya [and working hard to support adoptive families!], a friend going to the dominican republic to rescue children off the street, and a friend who just moved to iowa city who needed a place to stay for a few weeks.

we didn’t want to miss those opportunities God was giving us to give.

we haven’t fixed our door yet [because the duct tape seems to be holding up] and we haven’t fixed our dryer yet [because the clothesline is perfect for summer]. we did get the moped fixed, so bryan can easily get to class. we still need to put at least $613.40 in our tuition savings sometime this semester. the exact amount of loans we’re taking out this year is $5,474.00.

the month ended with a little gift from my parents, bryan’s grandparents [yet again] paying for all of his textbooks, and my paycheck being more than last months. we once again experienced joy in giving, and joy in being astounded by God’s provision.

the goal before all other goals.

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calculating kids

my husband wants to be a goat farmer in switzerland and live off the land. he doesn’t want to live a conventional life. ever. he doesn’t want to live for his career or money or a big house or new cars or anything the american dream entails. bryan would love to be in fulltime ministry or a missionary or move all around the country with various church plants.

now, you won’t find me complaining when bryan starts some sort of career after he graduates college or when we have a house that isn’t on cinderblocks. but i don’t really want to live a conventional life either. i’m not convinced that means we’re moving to switzerland and purchasing some goats. i’m not even convinced that means we’re going to be fulltime missionaries and live off of support. i like money and stability and america. but i don’t want to live my life for those things and bryan and i agree on that.

in order to keep ourselves accountable to our lifestyle goals, we’ve come up with a financial goal that directly affects all of our other financial goals:

give generously, all the time, no matter how much is in our bank account. 

our idea is that if we’re always giving generously, than we’ll never get fully caught up in making more money, buying bigger and nicer things, or focusing on our careers.

my goal is to be transparent but not prideful. so while the below ideas are indeed things we have implemented into our own lives, i thought it would be fun to point out all the amazing examples that have influenced us to give more generously. we’ve had a lot of good examples.

tithing is a non-negotiable.
this one is exampled by many people we know. whether rich or poor, they are disciplined to tithe. my favorite story about tithing is when my best friends parents were teaching their youngest child about tithing. after he thought he understood he asked: “wait a minute, we give God 10% and then we get to keep all the rest?!”

giving to God’s work is first priority. 
i can’t express how thankful i am to be receiving support from some of my dearest friends. i’ve been support raising for just two months now, but i completely under-estimated how cherished i would feel by receiving support-thank you! (you know who you are!) now that i am on the receiving end, i am all the more eager to give, give, and give some more whenever we get any sort of support letter.

not just money, but time and resources too.
two families stick out in my mind. first, my best friend’s family practically always had someone living with them. i got to know so many college students/random people because there seemed to always be someone new living in there basement. it was awesome!
second, the family of one of my old roommates might be the most modest and generous family i know. they are so quick to borrow out their possessions, be it their truck, their tv, or their vacuum. seriously, they are ridiculous. it makes me jump at the chance to give away our stuff, too!

putting others before ourselves.
i can’t think of anyone in particular that exudes this character, aside from the above people. i’m going to admit, sometimes we just like to challenge ourselves. sometimes, we write a check to someone in need just because it’s a little uncomfortable. sometimes, we offer our home to people just because it might be a little awkward.

in our experience, giving can be challenging, uplifting, frustrating, annoying, and freeing. but i can’t say we’ve ever had “giver’s remorse.” it’s always good for us!

Lord beer me strength

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right now i’ve been experiencing a little thing i like to call insecurity.
it’s awful.
if you know me at all, you know i come from a family that is extremely self-confident and secure. my mom is a great example of this attitude that has affected most in my family. the duvicks are simply confident people, everyone knows that.

it’s not that i’ve never experienced insecurity before. trust me, i have. but this is different some how. it’s a crippling kind of insecurity, the kind where i find myself saying “i can’t do this.

i’ve always been one to buck up and getter done when faced with challenges, i’ve never found myself so scared to face challenges.

before you start to feel sorry for me, let me redirect this post: this is a really good thing. once again, i find myself 12 years after accepting Christ into my life and yet only scratching the surface of understanding Him. i’ve had some very real moments with God. i’ve had to surrender these fears in a very real way. once again, the fact that i can’t do this is being made real to my hard heart.

i can’t lead an international student to Christ.
i can’t effectively disciple a college girl.
i can’t give perfect and wise counsel on how to budget.

i really can’t do those things. they’re too big for me. too scary for me. those things are crippling to me.

but God? oh, He can do those things. He doesn’t have any problems with those things. and what’s more is that He can use someone like me to do those things. i have no talent for evangelism, i have no good track record with discipling, i can do my own budget but teaching is another story.

but this year, it’s different. because i joined a family group, a bible study for internationals. a friend asked me to disciple her and i said yes. another friend asked for wisdom with money.
in other words, i’m here. i’m showing up.
i’m crazy for it, but i’m still doing it.
i’m freaking out, but it’s humbling me to my knees. i seriously doubt i’ll be at all effective in any of this if i forget to pray.

surprisingly, this newfound insecurity and flat-out terror is actually a good thing. because i finally know that i can’t do this.

trailer park life

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you know you live in a trailer park when…

you drive up onto the curb and pull up mcdonald’s style to your mailbox. you even keep your mailkey in your car, for that added measure of convenience. and why wouldn’t you? everyone else does. sometimes we even wait in line.

family photos: two+ years

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bryan & lisagrace_0043

my almost-sister-in-law, valerie, is an aspiring photographer. and when i say aspiring, i mean awesome. : ) she gave us a super sweet gift of a free photo session with her! here are some pictures from the shoot, and here’s a link to all of them.

bryan & lisagrace_0115
definitely my favorite

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well aren’t we just adorable.
bryan & lisagrace_0010

can you say epic tree?
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isn’t this so bryan?

sorry for the lack of actual posts, i haven’t had much time to write! hopefully i’ll catch up soon. until then, you’ll have to settle for lovely pictures and adoleo music videos.

a little adoleo update

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here’s the video that i posted a couple weeks ago, they made a few minor changes and now it’s back online!

in the meantime, the adoleo cd has been released!!!!!! get your copy today!

amazon: $7.99

itunes: $9.99

kunaki (hardcopy): $10 + shipping

veritas church (hardcopy): $10

trailer park life

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you know you live in a trailer park when…

the streets don’t have easy-to-read bright green and reflective street signs like the average city street. no, your special trailer park streets have wooden posts that have the street names etched into the wood. because  you live in a classy establishment trailer park.

trailer park life

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you know you live in a trailer park when….

your neighbor is always sitting in his driveway with 6-10 birdhouses for sale or inside his open garage making more birdhouses.

apparently he sells birdhouses for a living.

i’m 4 and you not 4!

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dear miranda,
when you and clint adopt some asian babies, please record lots of video of your kids fighting. especially if you live in china and i don’t get to see them.

 sincerely, lisagrace